Nursing, and many healthcare jobs in general, continue to be in high demand no matter what sort of economic climate we are facing. This is not surprising considering the nature of these professions and the vital services they provide. You can begin a nursing career with as little as an associate degree, but like many professions, advanced education can open more doors and expand your options. When deciding on whether you want to go this route, it is important to consider your personal situation. Here are some things to chew on when it comes to deciding whether you want to pursue an advanced nursing degree.
Get an Edge in a Competitive Market
Nurses are in high demand and many can easily find jobs with minimal education required to provide basic nursing care. However, if you’re interested in finding a job in an area where the competition is a bit stiffer, an advanced degree may give you a very distinct advantage. As healthcare models continue to evolve, nurses will be taking on increased responsibilities and new roles—the more advanced your education, the more attractive you will be to fill these positions.
Associate and bachelor programs prepare nurses to work in a general care capacity. There are many different areas of medicine that a nurse can be involved with, and if you have a particular interest in one such area, getting your MSN will allow you to pursue any of these concentrations. Nurses that get their MSNs can have a greater say in shaping patient care. This degree will be necessary if you want to get involved in healthcare administration, research or nursing education. With increased specialization comes greater pay; seven of the top ten highest paying nursing jobs all require an MSN—they include certified registered nurse anesthetist, nurse researcher, psychiatric nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist and gerontological nurse practitioner
Greater Demand for Advanced Practice Nurses
Even with the great demand for nurses, many schools are turning away qualified applicants simply because they do not have enough faculty; while nurses with PhDs are most in demand to teach, a masters of science in nursing qualifies you to teach and head clinical classes. On the work front, changes to healthcare policy are likely to worsen the physician shortage that was already expected to rear its head in the near future. As large numbers of people who were previously uninsured begin to seek medical care, there are calls to change the scope of practice for advanced nurses and raise pay to be on par with physicians to head off this problem.
Getting an Advanced Degree is Easier than Ever
Health care professionals can get advanced degrees easier than ever now; when it comes to nursing, you have lots of options available to you. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may be able to go right into an MSN program, bypassing the need for a BSN. If you are already a registered nurse, you also have the opportunity to skip the BSN and go right to a master’s program. There are numerous programs that are offered completely online or contain a mix of in-person and online classes.Flexible schedules and the option to go part-time make it possible for even the busiest professionals to find time to advance their education.
About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who frequently blogs about various education topics.